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A championship of style


Andrew Cotton

Deputy editor Sam Collins

News editor Mike Breslin Design

Dave Oswald

Chief sub editor Mike Pye

Contributing editors Paul Van Valkenburgh

Technical consultant Peter Wright


George Bolt jr, Lawrence Butcher Ricardo Divila, Alan Lis, Simon McBeath, Danny Nowlan, Mark Ortiz, Paul Weighell

Photography LAT, WRi2

Deputy managing director Steve Ross

Tel +44 (0) 20 7901 8011 Email steve.ross@

development Tony Tobias Tel +44 (0) 207 901 8026 Email tony.tobias@

Advertisement Manager Lauren Mills

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Publisher Luke Bilton

Managing director Paul Dobson Editorial

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ISSN No 0961-1096 USPS No 007-969

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known French driver, Frédéric Makowiecki, was setting the world alight in Spain on the Navarra circuit in the FIA GT1 World Championship in his McLaren MP4-12C. Now, some of you will know that this championship


is close to my heart, and I will admit that it is not a headline act in the same way as Monaco or Indianapolis. It is an FIA World Championship, but one that is probably more under threat than the World Rally or Touring Car championships. Even organiser, Stéphane Ratel, has succumbed to the adage, ‘if you want to make a small fortune in motor racing, start with a big one’ and, if the Frenchman sticks to his word this year, the championship will not continue in 2013. Ratel, by his own admission, needs the calendar to

be fixed by the end of July and for his teams to commit by the end of August to give him a chance to sell the championship to television companies this autumn. He made the same request last year, didn’t receive the support that was promised, and so put his hand in his own pocket to fund multiple teams to ensure he didn’t let down those who had already committed. Ironically, just as the championship looks rocky, this is the year he has the formula completely right – a world championship with GT3 cars, a new balance of performance (BoP) system and a move to smaller tracks that rapidly fill with spectators to provide a good atmosphere. Unfortunately, it is five years too late. For too long Ratel pursued his GT1 dream with Aston Martins, Nissans and Maseratis. While these cars were wonderful to watch, they were run by private teams, had little development, were expensive to run, and the configuration of the Maserati MC12 gave it an inherent advantage over the course of the season. It therefore won multiple titles. Ratel always said that GT1 cars, properly engineered

in the first place, could be performance balanced to within half a second, but that GT3 was another matter. These cars were taken from spec championships, and balanced to within 1.5secs as the level of the drivers was so varied there was no need to make them closer.

cLaren didn’t have much to write home about following the Monaco Grand Prix but, on that same weekend, as Dario Franchitti was celebrating victory at the Indy 500, a little

With professional drivers, argued Ratel, the car could not be the defining factor and so Peter Wright’s system worked perfectly in GT3 and GT1, at least once the standard ECU from Magneti Marelli had been made to work with the various engine configurations. So, when time was called on the GT1 cars at the

end of 2011, Ratel bowed to the inevitable, and turned his championship into GT3 only. That gave the likes of Porsche a chance at a world title years before it joined the WEC. Ferrari could come too, as could McLaren, Lamborghini and Aston Martin, giving him the brands he wanted and racing at a price the teams could afford. The new balance of performance system is still being

tinkered with and, unfortunately, as Makowiecki was blazing through the field, it became apparent that the McLaren MP4-12C (featured in REV21N11) needed to be carefully studied against the data accumulated by the FIA at the start of the season. The car started from the back of the grid and went on to win by 21 seconds from the third placed BMW of Michael Bartels, which itself started from the pit lane.

The FIA has

“With professional drivers… the car could not be the defining factor”

balanced the cars over the course of the season, and so will not react with a knee jerk, despite the general arm waving from rival team managers. However,

Oliver Jarvis, who drove the Audi R8 LMS, commented that his rivals appeared to hit the mushroom featured in Super Mario a quarter way down the main straight, and pulled away from him. He even lost his sense of humour for a while, pulling out the top speed charts from the race, which showed the R8 achieved 234km/h on the straight, the McLaren 245km/h. The best optimal lap time for the winning McLaren in the same race was 1m39.388secs, for the Audi, 1m40.588secs. For drivers who would likely be facing each other this year in LMP1 at Le Mans – Jarvis in the Audi R18 Ultra and Makowiecki in the Peugeot 908 HYbrid – this is a big gap. Obviously, the BoP needs to be carefully looked at, but the championship also needs solid support from the teams and promoters. By August we will know whether or not there will be a 2013 championship. If it fails, I for one would lament its loss.

EDITOR Andrew Cotton

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• Racecar Engineering, incorporating Cars & Car Conversions and Rallysport, is published 12 times per annum and is available on subscription. Although due care has been taken to ensure that the content of this publication is accurate and up-to-date, the publisher can accept no liability for errors and omissions. Unless otherwise stated, this publication has not tested products or services that are described herein, and their inclusion does not imply any form of endorsement. By accepting advertisements in this publication, the publisher does not warrant their accuracy, nor accept responsibility for their contents. The publisher welcomes unsolicited manuscripts and illustrations but can accept no liability for their safe return. © 2012 Chelsea Magazine Company. All rights reserved.

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98 • July 2012 August 2008

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